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Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans [Blu-ray]  [US Import]
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A rogue detective is as devoted to his job as he is at scoring drugs -- while playing fast and loose with the law. He wields his badge as often as he wields his gun in order to get his way. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he becomes a high-functioning addict who is a deeply intuitive, fearless detective reigning over the beautiful ruins of New Orleans with authority and abandon. Complicating his tumultuous life is the prostitute he loves. Together they descend into their own world marked by desire, compulsion, and conscience.
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He also shakes down people for information, even grandmothers. Makes Dirty Harry look like a sissy. Lots of drug use, bad language, sexual situations, and some violence.
Good story. Plot fairly simple to follow. The movie, at time, has the feel of a dark comedy.
Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) is a policeman in New Orleans post hurricane Katrina. Suffering from chronic back pain, McDonagh acquires a taste for painkillers and any other drugs he can pinch from the evidence room. High, he still works a murder case, hunting a killer using any way possible… so long as it’s not legal.
There’s a plethora of noir crime films that paved the way for Herzog’s film: Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep (1946), but Herzog’s film is funnier; Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949), but Herzog’s film is darker; Chinatown (1974) by Roman Polanski, but Herzog’s film is creepier. Its success comes from William M. Finkelstein’s script. The talent of Finkelstein’s writing, blending comedy, crime and drug addiction stories is superb. The script is delivered by Cage’s exceptional performance. He borders on perfection here, as he does in Wild at Heart (1990), Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Adaption (2002) and Kick-Ass (2010).
I recommend this film for all the reasons above, but mostly for when halfway through Cage changes his voice and sounds like James Stewart: funny, funny, funny.
First of all, it didn’t entirely escape criticism. Its full title is ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans’ and it’s actually a remake of the Harvey Keitel film of the same name (minus the bit about New Orleans). Therefore, you naturally had all the original’s fanbase claiming how sacred the original was and how this was a travesty and a simple cash-in rip-off. Well I guess all remakes are to a degree, but this one does its best to try and steer clear of borrowing too much from the source material. In fact, some of the production team even go as far as to say that it’s not a remake, more a sequel that only borrows from the same principal.
And then there’s Cage himself. He’s actually pretty good (again). Yes, he specialises in some overacting from time to time, but anyone who’s seen him before should be used to this. He’s propped up by a decent supporting cast, including Eva Mendes and Val Kilmer, but it’s generally Cage’s baby and he carries the film well. As the title suggests, Cage plays the titular ‘Bad Lieutenant’ who, despite supposedly being a man of the law, is pretty broken and frequently bends the rules, especially when he’s in need of drugs (legal and otherwise).
It’s a bit trippy, too. You have to concentrate on what’s going on and you’re going to have to be okay with some more ‘arty’ elements, such as singing iguanas (which I loved!). I think the more ‘out there’ parts of the film were trying to portray Cage’s slow descent into drug-induced madness.
I have to confess, I haven’t seen the original, so I can’t compare the two. But, seeing as I haven’t watched it, I quite enjoyed it – it’s a tale of a man who’s on a slippery path to nowhere. So, if you like your cops ‘dirty’ and films a little dark and whacky, don’t simply write it off as yet another of Cage’s ‘misfires’ and give it a go.
Maybe more of a 3.5 out of 5, but I'm in a generous mood!
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